The new year is an excellent time to ponder the future, and mobile devices are one of the most exciting areas of developing technology. In this article, I take a look at a variety of predictions for 2014 with a focus on the mobile space and what it might mean for mobile gaming. For one thing, it was recently reported that smart phones now outnumber PCs. What will this massive migration to mobile devices mean for the future of gaming?
“I think we’ll see mobile go from massive to super-massive”.- John Earner, CEO, Space Ape Games
Mobile Device Innovations
These innovative new devices might just be the most hotly anticipated improvement to the mobile platform. Samsung just revealed the GalaxyRound, a smart phone with a 5.7 inch curved screen. What difference does a curved screen make? The manufacturers say that the curvature helps reduce reflections and glossiness, which can make a big difference if you use your device in direct sunlight quite a lot.
It is rumored that even the iPhone 6 is getting a curved display update. But it’s Korean manufacturer LG that wins with an even more exciting innovation: the LG G Flex. The phone itself is somewhat bendable, and it has a large 6-inch display perfect for gaming and media viewing.
The latest crop of mobile devices cram even more processing power into ever-smaller (and cheaper!) designs. Manufacturers are reporting improvements to graphics processing and power consumption, as well.
Displays are getting bigger and thinner, and there are also many improvements to fidelity, including higher resolutions (1080p).
New Tablets, Table PCs and HUGE Tablet Displays
From a gaming perspective, the giant tablets and table PCs could be real game changers. There are several new tablets that now run multiple operating systems, like Windows 8 and Android. There is even a new curved (and bendable!) TV from Samsung, just unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
Software and Apps
A new version of Android is on the horizon. It features a newly designed user interface that mimics the Windows 8/Windows Phone dynamic tiles.
The notion of an ‘Internet of things‘ has been around for a while, but it looks like device convergence is finally on its way, and that opens up a lot of new options for games that span multiple devices. For one thing, it’s likely that game developers will continue to work on concepts for using smaller devices as ‘third screens’ that augment game play on other platforms.
“I see 2014 as the year where the cross-platform experience delivers as more than a marketing exercise, where teams will provide genuinely complementary experiences across multiple platforms, where the games work together to give a meta experience on top of them all. But it needs somebody to be brave and take the risk!” – Nick Button-Brown, studio head, Improbable
“We are due a raft of new connectivity between mobile, TV, consoles, tablets and other devices” – Harvey Elliott, CEO, Marmalade
Wearables and VR
This virtual reality helmet has everyone abuzz, and the new demo revealed at CES really shows off its potential.
This wearable is an exciting bit of progress in mashing up the virtual with the physical, but its $1500 price tag has left a lot of people lacking motivation. One rumor is that the price is likely to drop to $499 this year, making it more widely accessible.
Another entry in the virtual reality/wearable space is from Sixth Sense.
It seems like just about everyone has a version of a smart watch coming out this year. The big question is whether the tiny screens could be suitable for game play, even if they are just combined with other platforms as the ‘third screen’ I mentioned.